Outsourcing is often a cheap way for companies to get work done, particularly for focused uses. But once a company decides that it wants to apply a technology across all of its programs, paying for services may become prohibitively expensive. Thus Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. decided it would be more cost-effective to acquire Aurora Biosciences Inc. for its ultra-high throughput cell-based assays.

At the same time, VRTX hopes to make ABSC's service component work inside its integrated drug development business, even if toolkit services have proven tough for most companies to sustain as a robust business model.